A Beginner's Guide

(This is a longer one. Bear with me, O women of the digital age.)

Each and every one of us, whether we know it or not, possesses that inexplicable God-shaped hole in our hearts. Most people know it’s there, and some try to ignore it. Some pour other things in—oh, it’s filled with all kinds of things! Oodles of money. Unspeakable fame. Popularity. Gilmore Girls. And as certainly as if you poured concrete into your lungs to compensate for your need for air, you’re gonna drown that way.

The point of the God-shaped hole, interestingly enough, is that only God can fill it. A word of warning: once you discover the truth of this phenomenon, your life will most likely be thereafter consumed with the burning desire to fill it the right way, right away, and this process is pretty much going to take up your whole life. Thanks to the good people who’ve figured this out, we are surrounded by a living, active God, at work in the world and residing in those watchful, open hearts. And we, the generation of right now, are the ones responsible for giving Christ a place to reside here on earth. Without our open hearts He just can’t do His thing.

This is easier said than done. So many distractions do their work with unnoticed and powerful efficiency. Noise—sights, sounds, thrills, tastes, and cheap adventures cater to brief attention spans and seep beneath the skin--our unconscious effort to fill that void. Faith is altogether different; it’s something which matures over time the way a tomato plant unhurriedly pokes into the sunlight and reaches toward the sky and incrementally, slowly, deliberately comes to bear its giant red orbs. It’s just not done in a day.

The business of actually doing it, of committing to fill your heart with the right things and seek the Truth-with-a-capital-T is done in many, many ways. There just isn’t one singular rubric for completion. Here is my humble reflection on the way we go about growing our faith into the big happy tomato plant it’s supposed to be. This is a very humble guide. Take it with a grain of salt; ponder and adapt it, think about how you could use it to enrich your own spiritual life.

The seasons of our spiritual life mirror the endless cycle expressed in our calendar. In Advent, we wait and watch. At Christmas, we rejoice and give thanks. In Lent we reflect on our sinful nature and at Easter we rejoice in Christ’s saving work. And for the approximately 230 other days of the year, we resolve to commit and carry on the deepening of our faith.

Watching. Rejoicing. Reflecting. Resolving. Waiting. Rejoicing. Reflecting. Resolving to carry on.

Watch, hearts open, eyes watching and ears listening for a soul who carries God around with them. Have you ever found out something really major you have in common with someone and BOOM—instant best friends? Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about. Find other people who have Jesus in common with you. Hang out with them a lot.

Rejoice in finding people like this. When you look back on the friendships you have that are rooted in a common love for Christ, celebrate those!

Reflect on what God has done for you and who He is calling you to be. Reflection is an action of prayer, reading the bible, learning more about your faith that require consistently setting aside time and quiet so that God’s truth can penetrate your heart and mind.

Resolve to walk the path of truth. You are not alone. Surround yourself, to the best of your abilities, with the kind of people you would one day aspire to be like, who encourage and support you. Grow a little like them into a wonderful version of yourself which has been influenced by the light of others.

Wait. Wait for Him to enter your heart, bit by bit, day by day. He will come if you want Him to. He comes on His own time—so, patience. He comes into the place you have prepared for Him—so get to work preparing that place.

Rejoice when He comes! When you feel the Holy Spirit stirring inside your heart, prompting you to act, to speak, to do; when you feel passionate about something, when you have the fire to change or to do good—that’s God acting at last. Even when you don’t feel it, but you know it has to be there, give thanks.

Carry God with you. Be that light to the world, the one not under the bushel basket—make the Spirit in you visible to others, make it known that you’ve filled that mysterious void in your life with the One Thing which can truly satisfy. One day, a watchful heart will catch sight of your own beautiful soul. And so it begins again.

We are now in what the Church calls Ordinary Time, the 230 or so days of resolving, committing, and carrying on. But hearts have no seasons and there is no predetermined calendar of the soul. Whatever time you are in, be all there. If you are waiting, wait with resilience and patience and perseverance—the day will soon come. If you are rejoicing, thanks be to God! If you are moving forward, ready to carry Jesus to everyone around you, may you be successful in your mission.

Another note: This is not a cycle that the soul goes through just once, just like there is more than one year to our lives. Change affects and interrupts the turning. This model does not work for every situation the way that theories of particle physics apply to every single particle.

Hopefully these words give you something to ponder. May you be successful in filling that God-shaped space with the only One who can truly satisfy!